ExpressVPN vs NordVPN – who wins?

Our ExpressVPN vs NordVPN guide helps to weigh the strengths and weaknesses of these two privacy giants against one another to help you choose which is best

ExpressVPN vs NordVPN - image shows the logos of the two companies.

ExpressVPN vs NordVPN – an iconic clash up there with the likes of King Kong vs Godzilla, but instead of giant monsters its two behemoths of the VPN world. Those who are looking to protect their privacy on the internet will no doubt have read a lot about both of these providers, to the extent that it’s hard to know which is best.

That’s why we’ve made this ExpressVPN vs NordVPN guide. Each of these providers has its strengths, and depending on your needs, a different one may win the fight. To make things as easy as possible, this guide is split into sections where we compare the components of each service. If you know which features you find most important, you can easily skip to that section of the article.

To make things even easier, you could check out our guides on NordVPN and ExpressVPN, where we carefully analyse both services and answer several frequently asked questions about them. We hope that we’re able to provide you with enough information in order for you to make an informed decision about your VPN provider.

Here’s a breakdown of the different points of comparison:

ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: image shows a pile of cash.

ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: costs

Both providers have several different payment plans, all of which tend to gear you towards paying for larger periods of time at once. Here are the different payment options for ExpressVPN:

  • 12 months (+ 3 free) at $80.04 ($6.67 per month)
  • 6 months at $59.94 ($9.99 per month)
  • 1 month at $12.95

Comparatively, NordVPN offers a broader selection of payment plans, with customers able to pay different amounts, depending on which services they wish to take advantage of. For example, the Standard plan (which is the VPN service with no extra bells or whistles) has three payment options:

  • 24 months (+ 3 free) at $83.43 ($3.09 per month)
  • 12 months at $59.88 ($4.99 per month)
  • 1 month at $11.95

Then the next step up, the Plus plan, which includes the use of a data breach scanner, has the following payment options:

  • 24 months (+3 free) at $107.73 ($3.99 per month)
  • 12 months at $70.68 ($5.89 per month)
  • 1 month at $12.89

Finally, there’s the Complete plan, which, in addition to the data breach scanner, also includes 1TB of encrypted cloud storage space so that you can keep all of your private files under lock and key. These are the payment options for this final plan:

  • 24 months (+3 free) at $142.83 ($5.29 per month)
  • 12 months at $86.28 ($7.19 per month)
  • 1 month at $14.19

Winner: NordVPN

If your primary concern is which of these services will be the cheapest, then NordVPN wins. Not only does it generally offer lower prices, but it also has so many options, enabling you to ensure that what you spend your money on, is exactly what you want.

ExpressVPN vs NordVPN - image shows a row of servers.

ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: servers

ExpressVPN has over 7,400 servers spread across 94 countries.

NordVPN has 5,465 servers spread across 59 countries.

Winner: ExpressVPN

Both services cover major countries like America, the UK, India, Canada, Japan, and more, but in terms of sheer range and the total server count, ExpressVPN beats NordVPN. This is handy if you find certain services or websites block a lot of VPN IPs, because you’ll have a broader selection to choose from.

ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: image shows a dark figure looming in the digital realms.

ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: privacy features

In addition to standard VPN services, ExpressVPN offers all of the following privacy features:

  • Kill switch – severs the connection if the internet drops to prevent any data leakage
  • No-logs policy – which means that the provider does not keep any logs of your online activities
  • Threat manager – blocks malicious apps and third-parties from obtaining any of your data
  • Split-tunnelling – allows you to connect certain apps through your VPN, while others use the native connection
  • Private DNS – every server runs its own private DNS, helping with privacy and speed
  • TrustedServer – a system which prevents data from ever being written to a server
  • Lightway protocol – a special VPN protocol designed by ExpressVPN to improve speed and security

NordVPN, meanwhile, boasts the following benefits:

  • Kill switch
  • No-logs policy
  • Threat manager
  • Split-tunneling
  • Dedicated IP – a unique IP address to use through the VPN which is exclusive to you
  • NordLynx protocol – NordVPN’s own protocol, which rivals ExpressVPN
  • Private DNS – NordVPN can offer this too, though not to the same, broad extent as ExpressVPN

Winner: ExpressVPN (by a hair’s breadth)

Both of these VPN providers offer a pretty comprehensive package when it comes to privacy features. The fact that the private DNS services are more widspread, and that it uses the TrustedServer system inches it ahead of NordVPN, just slightly.

ExpressVPN vs NordVPN - image shows multiple devices piled on a laptop.

ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: simultaneous connections

ExpressVPN allows you to have up to five simultaneous connections.

NordVPN allows you to have up to six simultaneous connections.

Winner: NordVPN

It’s a simple case of NordVPN letting you use the VPN on six devices at once, while ExpressVPN only lets you use it on five. To be perfectly honest here, this isn’t a strong area for either provider, because there are many VPN services that allow ten or more simultaneous connections. Some of them even allow an infinite number, but solely looking at these two, NordVPN is the best choice.

ExpressVPN vs NordVPN - image shows a speedometer.

ExpressVPN vs NordVPN: speed

 

Testing ExpressVPN’s London servers on a 147.15Mbps connection brought up the following results:

  • ExpressVPN Lightway UDP – 122.12Mbps
  • ExpressVPN Lightway TCP – 122.27Mbps

ExpressVPN also uses OpenVPN UDP, OpenVPN TCP, IKEv2 (although it won’t work on all networks), and L2TP / IPsec (which is slower, and with lower security), but if you’re primary concern is speed, these other protocols won’t be able to match Lightway.

When testing NordVPN’s NordLynx, we get 127.28Mbps. Although NordVPN also uses OpenVPN UDP and OpenVPN TCP, it’s harder to control which protocol you use through this service, but NordLynx is on by default and should reflect the fastest speeds you’ll get from NordVPN.

Winner: NordVPN

NordVPN is the fastest VPN of these two, but it’s close. That certainly doesn’t mean that ExpressVPN is slow though – it’s still one of the speedier services out there, it just so happens that NordVPN is even faster. However, it’s important to keep in mind that many factors can have an effect on a VPN’s performance, including time of day when more people might be using it and causing server congestion, how far away you are from the server you connect to, and even the limitations of your own hardware.

Conclusion

Although NordVPN beats out ExpressVPN for three of the five criteria we’ve compared here, we would still choose ExpressVPN as the superior service, simply because having the superior selection of servers and privacy features carries more weight than some of the areas where NordVPN won.

NordVPN, to its credit, is still a fantastic service, and we think that it will serve many of our readers well. So, in conclusion, you should choose ExpressVPN if:

  • You want a comprehensive privacy package
  • You prefer to have as many servers to choose from as possible
  • You aren’t limited by budget

However, you should choose NordVPN if:

  • You want the fastest service possible
  • You need that extra simultaneous connection
  • You’re after a cheaper option

For more guidance on choosing the right VPN service, check out our guides on the best VPN, and the most secure VPN, which we hope should serve you well.